TEXT: MARK 2:18-28 (ESV)
Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”
One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
You can’t mix the old (legalism=preoccupation with rules) with the new (grace=trusting and resting in God’s mercy).
1. CHRISTIANITY IS ABOUT RELATIONSHIP RATHER THAN RULES.
The Pharisees were wondering why Jesus’ disciples did not fast, but how could the disciples do so while Jesus was with them? They were joyfully basking in the light of his presence. Fasting and mourning were simply out of place.
Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings?
(Colossians 2:20-22 ESV)
2. CHRISTIANITY IS ABOUT LOVE NOT LEGALISM
The Pharisees missed the reason why the law was given in the first place. It seems they were interested only in compliance for compliance’s sake, and not so much in the welfare of the people involved.
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
(Romans 13:8-10 ESV)
3. CHRISTIANITY IS ABOUT GRACE NOT GRIT
Legalists are concerned with keeping the rules at all costs in order to earn God’s favor. Christianity, however, is not about trying to earn God’s favor. It’s about trusting in Christ’s perfect sacrifice for us and resting in God’s perfect acceptance of us because of what Jesus has accomplished for us. We do good works and keep the law not in order to earn God’s favor, but out of gratitude for the favor which he has freely extended to us.
But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
(Romans 11:6 ESV)
What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.(Romans 4:1-5 ESV)